vietnam - it's all about people and food

vietnam – it’s all about people and food

August 13, 2010  |  travel tips and tales, uncategorized

Vietnam has become a fashionable and accessible destination for Australians. If you’re thinking of going, do it soon as this country is becoming westernised by the day. A recent trip from the Mekong Delta in the south to Sapa on the Chinese border in the north, spanned the delights of Vietnam for 23 days. There were plenty of tantalising travel stories from Halong Bay, Hanoi, Hoi An, Hue, Da Nang , Sapa and Ho Chi Minh City. This record focuses on the food and the people – good reasons to experience Vietnam at any location.

Vietnamese food is fantastic! Forget the jokes about dogs and possums – although we did see dog looking strangely like Peking duck at Sapa. In a general sense the food is light, clean, flavoursome and different. Vietnam is a food bowl of fertile river plains, deltas and terraced hills. The variety and presentation of produce in the wet markets would put Woolworths and Coles to shame. All organically grown, the quality and flavour of fruit and vegetables is second to none.

Pho (rice noodles, pronounced fer) is the breakfast food of a nation. We ate a lot of pho tai – rare beef with rice noodles, some chilli, lime, bean shoots and Vietnamese mint. Com (rice) is the staple food and can be made into wrappers, noodles and sweets. Vietnamese spring rolls (nem) are excellent, as are the range of salads. Green papaya and green mango salads were brilliant. Use of various herbs and spices add special flavour to most meals. And we can’t forget that wonderful legacy from the French – fresh baguettes available everywhere.

Most of our meals were taken in restaurants that ranged from authentic local shops such as the one in Hue where we had special egg pancakes, to the more upmarket restaurants such as Au Lac in Hanoi. We even had some meals on the street and strongly support this bold approach (although the street stalls are rapidly disappearing)

Two thirds of Vietnam’s 84 million people are under thirty. These people respect their heritage but are in touch with the globe through mobile phones, i pods and the internet. The Vietnamese are proud, determined and shrewd. In history they have seen off the Chinese, the French and the Americans. There is a strong work ethic and loyalty to family, together with a strong instinct to do business and to deal. We thought that people in the north were softer and more subtle than their countrymen in Saigon. Melbourne is to Hanoi, as Saigon is to Sydney.

On the religious front, most of the population have adopted the triple religion – where Confucianism, Buddhism and Taoism have fused with popular Chinese beliefs and ancient Vietnamese animism.

Be warned – Vietnam is addictive and now rates as one of my top two repeat destinations.

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